Friday, 28 June 2013

To Twitch or not to twitch – that IS a question!

Dusky Thrush, Margate Cemetery, May 2013
Not long ago, a rare bird from the far east, a Dusky Thrush turned up in East Kent. This was the first time this species had been available in Britain to be seen by potential admirers since 1960. On this occasion, it attracted about a thousand people during the day after it had been announced the previous evening just before midnight. In fact, it was my wife who told me of it, as she saw it mentioned on Twitter. One of the few who had seen it in 1960, told a friend that in those days, he had been informed of it by a friend in a letter. It seems the great Ron Johns who had the longest list for many years was also informed of the same Dusky Thrush by letter, and in fact the two of them went together by train the very next day. How communications have changed since then! In the event, on this 2013 occasion, the bird remained for just one day after it had been announced.

My experience of it started in a fairly leisurely way with a cup of coffee at a sociable hour in the morning. I consulted Bird Alert to find that the bird was indeed showing quite well, so after finishing my coffee, I got up and then left for East Kent at around ten thirty. How different this was to how I would have been in the early days of my twitching when North Yorkshire, or even Northumberland would have been considered, and I would have left at 3 o’clock in the morning! In the event, I arrived at the site at around midday. The latest news was that it was quite easy to see the bird, but that it was sitting in fairly dense cover where it had been for an hour or two.  Being in dense cover, it had to be viewed in small pieces at a time, that is a tail, followed by a beak, and then a wing if one was lucky.